Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco High grad dies during Green Beret training

DADE CITY — They had the best conversation they've ever had last week. First, they caught up on life — who is well, who is sick, who is having a baby — the normal things you say when you haven't talked with someone for awhile. And then it all shifted. When they could have said goodbye, they didn't. And, for two hours, the brother and sister shared in a way they never had before. They talked of who they are and who they wanted to be, how they felt, their hopes and dreams.

"I'm so proud of you," Erica Murburg said to her brother, whose proper name was Norman Michael Murburg III, but whom everyone called Ehren.

"The Army has made you the man you always wanted to become, but didn't know how."

And when they got off the phone, they said they loved each other and Erica felt so good. The brother she felt was lost years ago had come back.

But Tuesday, she lost him again, this time forever. The Green Beret candidate died in a training exercise near Fort Bragg, N.C. The army is still trying to figure out what happened.

• • •

Erica is two years older than Ehren and, as kids, they were close. He always wore superhero clothes and pajamas — Superman, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe. He was a big, blond, bruiser of a boy from the start, and Erica, being the older sister, learned quickly not to make him play dolls with her.

Their parents divorced when Erica was 10 and Ehren was 8. They lived with their dad, Michael Murburg, a Pasco lawyer. Ehren changed after the divorce, Erica said. He was hurt and he concealed that in anger — sullen and silent, his sweetness and humor gone. He still excelled in school and wasn't a bad kid. But he withdrew. Ehren wanted to join the military, but, in their family, college was the rule.

So after graduating from Pasco High School in 2005, he enrolled at the University of Florida and majored in film and psychology with a minor in anthropology. He joined a fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. But he was not happy.

Ehren, who was 6 feet 4 with green eyes, made it through his freshman year and then, this past fall, began his second. In September, he called his family with news. He had enlisted in the Army. Erica was upset, but also happy for him.

"There are a lot of problems in the world," he told her. "And I want to help. I want to be part of the solution."

• • •

Ehren shipped out for basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and, after his graduation in February, went to Fort Bragg. When Ehren did something, he wanted to be the best. So he wanted to be a Green Beret. His training exam was coming up, and Ehren told Erica he was nervous. The test would be grueling — left in a forest with a map and compass, and the task of finding targets.

"You'll be fine," she told her brother, the one who taught himself to ride a bike and then taught her. "Just give it your best."

The Army said Ehren was discovered missing after the 10-hour exercise ended midday Monday. Nearly 500 soldiers looked for him that day and night. His body was found at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Officials said his flares weren't used and that they received no signal from the emergency tracking device he was issued. His water canteens were full.

Erica doesn't think there was wrongdoing by the Army and thinks it was a tragic incident. Thursday night, she thought of how her brother changed in these past months. In taking a leap and doing what was in his gut, he found peace. He was stronger, yet also more kind.

Ehren wanted to be part of the family again. He called often and cared much. The barricade of anger he held for so long melted and there he was, a man in superhero clothes, the little brother of 20 years who changed his sister's life in a few months, leaving a voice inside her saying do it, do what's in your heart, don't be afraid, live the life you want.

Times staff writer Lisa Buie and Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (813) 909-4609.


Ehren Murburg

Ehren Murburg is survived by his mother, Karen Murburg of Clearwater, and his father, Michael Murburg, and sister, Erica Murburg, both of Dade City. The family plans to have a memorial service at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in San Antonio, but a date has not been set. Hodges Funeral Home in Dade City will be handling arrangements after Murburg's body is released by the Army. Burial will be at Florida National Cemetery near Bushnell.

Pasco High grad dies during Green Beret training 06/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 8:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Today is not a dream;' St. Petersburg ready to start building new pier

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG —Three years ago, with the now demolished inverted pyramid still standing stubbornly in the background, Mayor Rick Kriseman laid out a plan to replace or renovate the iconic structure.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman addresses the crowd Wednesday morning at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new pier. Construction will start next week. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  2. Hillsborough and Pinellas officials can't even agree that they agreed to meet

    Local Government

    Tampa Bay political leaders often tout taking a regional approach to solve the region's most pressing issues. But the challenge has been getting Hillsborough and Pinellas County leaders together on the same page.

    Or in this case, in the same room.

    This month Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill (above) nixed a joint meeting of the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Commissions. But Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long said her Hillsborough counterpart, Stacy White, had already agreed to two meetings. [DANIEL WALLACE   |   Times]
  3. Ex-sheriff's official says sheriff intentionally hid federal inmate revenue from county

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The former third-in-command at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office has filed a complaint, alleging that Sheriff Al Nienhuis intentionally hid from the County Commission $1.3 million in revenue he collected from housing federal inmates last year.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times  Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said he was "extremely disappointed'' to hear of James Terry's allegations about the sheriff's handling of federal inmate dollars and noted that Terry was "offered the opportunity to resign from his position at the Sheriff's Office when numerous complaints as to his unprofessional conduct began flowing into the front office.''
  4. Fewer minions make things better in 'Despicable Me 3'


    Despicable Me 3 doubles down on Steve Carell's silly way with words, a smart idea after too much Minions gibberish spoiled part 2. They're still here, in smaller doses and somewhat funnier for it.

     voiced by Trey Parker, in a scene from "Despicable Me 3."  (Illumination and Universal Pictures via AP)
  5. After Rick Scott veto, Tarpon Springs renews push for money to dredge Anclote River

    Local Government

    In a pocket formed at the end of a branch of the Anclote River, Kevin Meisman has seen the size of the boats coming by his family's business get smaller.

    Kevin Meisman, 37, looks out from the dock of his family’s business, Quality T-Tops & Boat Accessories, in Tarpon Springs. Meisman says that, without dredging along the Anclote River, the number of boats he can service is limited.